Junior golfers on course for bigger things

WILL Mackenzie started playing golf because of Marc Leishman and has ambitions to follow in the footsteps of the US PGA Tour winner.

His latest triumph is a far cry from the greens of the United States, but there are hints the Warrnambool 11-year-old is bound for big things in the sport.

Will is the new Victorian Junior Open under 14 boys’ champion after carding a remarkable eight-over-par 80 at Thirteenth Beach on Sunday.

The performance earned the St Joseph’s Primary School pupil a one-shot win from Christian Chierego, with Markopolo Fullepp a shot further back in third.

Will, playing off a handicap of 12, was also the overall nett champion with a score of 68 — the best of any golfer in the under 14, under 16 and under 18 grades.

“He started off pretty poorly but then he came good, he played well. He’s learning the game a bit,” his father Brian Mackenzie said.

“The longer he plays the more he’ll learn. He had a lesson a couple of weeks ago with Craig Bonney and that helped him a bit.”

Will said his round started off “bad, really bad” before a string of pars completed his first nine holes. He was also consistent on his second nine.

“I didn’t used to like golf when I was seven or eight. I used to play a lot of tennis. Now I like tennis but not as much as golf,” he said. “I didn’t think I’d win (the open) at all. I just wanted to play good, have a good score, because I’d never played the course before.”

Completing a stellar day for Warrnambool juniors was another 11-year-old in Noah Best, who shot 89 off a handicap of 19.

His effort earned him runner-up on the overall nett standings. He was also the under 14 nett champion.

Noah, who is coached by Paul Smith at Port Fairy Golf Club, said he was pleased with one of his best rounds on an unfamiliar course.

“When I got on the fairways I thought it was carpet, it was that soft,” he said.

“I putted really well. My short game was pretty good and my driving was OK.”

Noah also idolises Leishman. 

The Warrnambool Primary School pupil plays tennis, swimming and football but golf is his number one sport.

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